Monday, January 5, 2015

instagram hashtag challenges

some people won't give a rip about this post. (i'm sorry, i know we still love each other, and i give you full permission to skip what follows as it will be a painfully long and boring dissertation for you!)

others of you are going to gobble up every word, save it forever, and come back to check the comments regularly. you in the second group are my insta-peeps. we speak emoji to each other, we're friends even though we've never met, and we stay up waaaay past our bedtime because there's always someone awake in australia to talk to. and since you know i love you (like love you love you), i'm sharing this as part one of a series on how to up your insta-game. {party emoji!}

welcome to

these are organized by category, are a great way to expand your instagram reach, and, more importantly, to have fun with the app.

for my newbies who don't really understand what this whole hashtag challenge thing is, i'll give a brief note of explanation. basically, a person, institution, or group of people create their own hashtag, and then invite other instagram users to put that hashtag on their pictures.  they then typically "regram" (post your picture to their own instagram account) or feature your picture on their blog, website or other social media. it's a pat on the back from them saying, "hey, awesome picture!"

the reasons people create a hashtag challenge are usually:

1. first and foremost a great passion for the topic.

2. it connects like-minded community on instagram.

3. it feels awesome to give people an "atta boy" and make their day by featuring them.

4. although i don't know how effective it is for the layfolk to gain "exposure," for a brand it is a very effective way to create interest in a product and spread brand awareness. (see for example #totewell which is how i first learned of madewell, became obsessed with this tote, got on their mailing list, and eventually made my first purchase- now that is hashtag power).

anyway, if your new year's resolution is to up your insta-game, a hashtag challenge or two (or 20) is a great place to start.

don't go crazy using these willy-nilly. the creators of these tags think of them as their babies. they put a lot of love, thought, care and time into curating their features and promoting their challenges. so please don't just copy and paste all of these and slap them on pictures that have nothing to do with them.

carefully choose the ones that make sense for your photos (that's why i arranged them by category) and use them appropriately. you'll show respect for the hosts and also increase your chances of being featured and finding your own insta-peeps. follow the hosts of the challenges that you love. watch what they feature. be inspired. work on your photography.

the mantra for this series is a quote from mandy of mandy & such, who i interviewed in my insta-faves series. she said, "it's all for fun." and it is. remember that. at the end of the day it matters nothing to your worth to have a lot of followers and get a lot of accolades on social media. you are a treasured and beloved creation whom God knew before the foundation of the world. your creativity isn't measured by likes and follows. be who you are. post what you love. 

got all that? all set? good.

below you'll see the hashtag(s) and the account that hosts the challenge. if you click on the account it will take you directly to their instagram. if the hashtag itself is black, it will link to more information about the challenge on a website or IG post. i've organized them by type of photo, and then in some cases there is an example of my work that has been lucky enough to be featured!


#morningslikethese @morningslikethese

#thatsdarling #darlingweekend #darlingmovement @darlingmagazine

#mystillsundaycompetition @kimklassen


weekend hashtag project (#whp...) @instagram {open weekends only, instagram announces a new theme every friday. winners will be featured on the instagram blog.}

#teg30daychallenge @theeverygirl_  {a new challenge monthly. january's challenge is to drink 8 glasses of water a day. post photos showing how you embrace the challenge to be regrammed.}

#dscollections #dshappy #dscolor #dslooking #dsnicerug #dspattern (and more!@designsponge {grace bonney of design*sponge hosts a new challenge each month and typically posts her favorites on her website at the end of the month. but in the meantime she regrams from all feeds on IG, even if the challenge is over, so you can keep tagging with any of them. these are by far and away my most favorite challenges. i've met amazing people through them, and constantly find crazy talent.}

#7vignettes @interiorsaddict {this challenge is open for only the 1st week of each month. each day has its own theme. it's pretty challenging but is great fun and has a huge community that cheers for each other.}

#myweekof……. @its_my_week {new challenges weekly; only new photos may be submitted}

#natureinthehome @littlegreenshed

#friendsandwalls @connortd {small friends, big walls. this tag is awesome, as is connor. #fangirl}


#modernoutdoorsman @modernoutdoorsman

#lifeofadventure @livefolk

#darlingweekend @darlingmagazine

#villagesociety @thevillagestyle 


#blogtribe @blogsociety  {on tuesdays, upload a photo of your favorite blogger to social media & tag #blogtribe and @blogsociety}

#blogsociety @blogsociety {general blog-related posts}

#theblogissue @theblogissue {you can also email them to submit}


almost every brand i know of has an instagram account (if they don't, they should!) and most regram customer photos. from pottery barn to t.j. maxx to small etsy sellers, if you bought a product check the brand's account for their hashtags and use them! you can also add their handle in your comments or tag your photo with their handle to help them see you. here are just a handful of examples from my favorites:

#targetstyle @targetstyle

#targetdoesitagain @targetdoesitagain {i don't think this is officially a part of target - it seems like a fan page. they regram and have a huge following.}

#myNateBerkus @targetstyle @nateberkus {current contest where nate berkus will choose his favorites to regram.}

{can you guys tell i'm a huge fan of target? as you can see, one brand can have several different hashtags and contests. for instance wit & delight did regrams from the #witanddelightfortarget tag, so dig around.}

#mywestelm @westelm

#warbyparker #warbysummer @warbyparker

#denimmadewell #totewell @madewell1937

#LetsDoThis @homedepot

small businesses and etsy sellers are wonderful about regramming. these makers are thrilled to have you sharing photos of their products and show them off with enthusiasm. it's so sweet and it makes me love "shopping small" all the more.

{a note to small shops: if you aren't engaging in this way with your customers, think about starting! nothing builds brand loyalty like a regram. check out #yesmaamregram for inspiration.}

{do check out the lovelies @kaitlinparishodesigns @elliefunday @yesmaampapergoods and @chalkfulloflove - they are all wonderful!}


#thriftscorethursday @the_gathered_home @bnwobsession @formyloveof and @primitiveandproper


#livethelittlethings @runstylerun and @forriverhendrix {i actually have the priviledge of guest hosting this soon, and i can't wait! i'm so honored and giddy!}

#petitejoys @allieseidel and @rougeandwhimsy

#gallerywallworthy @fleamarketfab @paige_morse @the_french_bohemian and @honeylakestudio {love all these girls and the feed is gorgeous}

#foundforaged @thebigrevealblog @kdall070 and @laurairion {yep that's me! and this one is my baby that i started with grace and kyla. tag any pics new or old that are yours; the three of us regram on saturdays. i also will be doing a couple blog posts here and there like this one with features. you all astound me- like seriously knock my socks off, so keep them coming!}


#handsandhustle @handsandhustle


#theweekendwalkabout @theweekendwalkabout {open weekends only; no indoor pictures allowed}

#justgoshoot @justgoshoot

#thefpa @female_photog_association

#nothingisordinary and #nothingisordinary_ @nothingisordinary_


i'm guessing every major city has insta-meets and local challenges. below are a couple specific to chicago, where i am. the best way to find these is to search your city's name (for instance #chicago), look at some of the photos that stand out and see what hashtags that instagrammer is using. it might take you a few minutes but you'll find it.

#jj_chicagoland @jj_chicagoland founded by @meandering_mari / @jj_editor_mari and co-moderated by @mmainey, @jesusmdiaz, @fischerdg

#igerschicago @igerschicago and moderators @city_in_a_garden @cmykchicago @elbow_macaroni @mollypg


#rsa_minimal @rsa_minimal

#minimalpink {so i'm not exactly sure who founded/ moderates this but i found it through @xuzzi and it's one of my favorite feeds to scroll through- so good! i will have to check if it's his!?}

{sorry i don't have more- i'd love to know if you guys have good ones for this category!!}


#finditliveit @madewithmap


#howistylemyblooms @onekingslane {challenge closed but still a beautiful feed- i hope they bring it back this spring! this was the first hashtag challenge i ever tried.}

#RSblooms #RSflowers @real_simple {real simple magazine may regram or include you in a print issue!}


follow these accounts for occasional challenges they throw out from time to time:

@marthastewart {example #myamericansummer , now closed}

@poppytalk {example #poppytalkfallcolours , now closed}

@domainehome {various challenges with #mydomaine for a chance to be featured on their site like this}

@dominomag {recently #sodomino for a chance to have your home featured in the magazine. had to tag #sodomino AND #springcontest AND @dominomag; seems like its closed now}

@onekingslane {examples #howistylemyblooms and #wheretofindme}


#dogsofdomino @dominomag

#dogsofinstagram @dogsofinstagram (you can hastag and/or email a photo to dogs.instagram [AT] gmail [DOT] com)

#marthastewartpets @marthastewart


#theeverygirlcooks @theeverygirl_


whew! that was a lot, i know. and i'm sure you've got a ton more (i have a lot more tags that i love to use but i don't actually know who the moderators are so i didn't list them here).

if you know of tags, please share them in the comments below! even if you don't know who hosts them, share anyway and maybe someone else will know. and if you've started your own challenge, share that too! i will definitely tag pics!

{p.s. there is also a good discussion started on this post by @littlefarmmedia - she is a good one to follow for social media & instagram tips in general!}

these challenges are the best way, in my opinion, to grow an instagram following that will be an authentic and engaged community. as you can see from the pictures in this post, i have been honored to be featured in several and i'm always crossing my fingers for more! they constantly challenge me to be better and try new things.

i'll be telling more of my instagram story in a later post, and am considering this the first in a little series i'm going to write about how to grow your instagram. i've gotten so many questions on that topic, and i'd love to share what i've learned. it's a great passion and has been a wonderful artistic outlet and community of creatives that i have loved being a part of.

ready to get started??

see you on instagram! {be sure to say hi, emoji use optional}

{sharing at house of hipsters}


  1. Wow!!! Mind blown... I am such a newbie when it comes to instagram, and I now realize there is a whole world of it out there to explore. Baby steps for me, maybe I will have to try some of these challenges :) Thanks!

  2. Love a good tag project! #petitejoys and #weheartthemarket are great ones too :) I moderate them (@allieseidel). Happy New Year Laura!

    1. oh my goodness, how did i forget #petitejoys?! i blame blogging at 4 am. adding!!

  3. Laura, this is so perfect for today. (And, really, any day.) I was just waxing poetic about how you taught me the Way of the 'Gram over on my blog this morning. Great minds...

    Seriously, though, your tips are two thumbs up! You are totally making me a better Instagramer. The world thanks you. Makers of the X-Pro-II filter on Instagram, however, are very disappointed. (Sorry, guys, Laura told me NO FILTERS!)

  4. How on earth was I not following you yet?! I can't wait to follow along there as well :) These are all really great tips. I may be guilty of the willy-nilly hashtag usage, simply because I didn't know their proper meaning ;)

    26 and Not Counting

    1. hahaha, i've DEFINITELY been guilty of that, and will be again i'm sure!

  5. This post! First of all, I laughed so hard at the first paragraph! It has happened so many times that Im up late and can't sleep so I get on Instagram like, where my Europeans at??! ha. And Australians, Malaysians, Russians, you get the idea.. :) People in other parts of the world keep me entertained when insomnia kicks in.
    I LOVE hashtag contests and shout outs and have met so many creative people across the world who are now my dear friends. This post is so full of great information. I bookmarked it and can't wait to get busy in all the new hashtags I saw here. Thank you!!!

  6. You are brilliant!!!!!!!!! Love this, thank you!

  7. You take such beautiful photos!

    Awesome tips and AMAZING round-up! Here are some more minimalism tags for ya! #todays_simplicity #rsa_minimal #jj_minimal #jj_minimalism #mindtheminimal #mnn_gram :) -mari

  8. I really need to get better at documenting my features on Instagram! And look at you girl! I didn't know you were featured on DS twice! I bow to you oh wise one! Seriously, great post! I love it!

  9. And how did I not you you had that No Diggety print? I do too! AND it's slated to appear on my IG in the next day or so =)

  10. thank you so much for sharing out #thriftscorethursday hashtag! what an awesome round up!

  11. Wowza, thanks for the shoutout on #thriftscorethursday! We LOVE LOVE LOVE hashtags. There's quite a few in your list that I haven't discovered yet! Thank you for the lovely list, please excuse me while I get my Instagram on... for the next few days!

    P.S. your photos rock my world!

  12. Wow. This post is wicked! My mind just got blown, eventhough I have heard and participated in IG hashtag challenges (TEG) I didn't really think of them on this scale. Wow. I am so ... No words.. This is amazing vis a vis IG strategy but awesome as a blog post per se, you know. Just the right thing people need. Amazing! Love it. You must have put so much time into this post and for that THANK you so much, I really appreciate it, and other too I am sure. I'm so happy I found your IG and blog :)

  13. I am ALWAYS inspired by your instagram account and the amazing reach you have! I am working to be more like you. These are great tips to start with! Love to hear more!

  14. THE most helpful IG tips I have read to date (and I've read a lot). Laura-you are so kind to put this list together. I will refer to it over and over (and over). THANK YOU!!
    Also, your IG is amazing. I just swoon over every image :)

  15. Incredible! This is all very useful advice - but more importantly, fun! Thank you! So happy I found your blog and IG :)

  16. thank you all SO much for your sweet & kind comments! you all made my day over and over again. i'm going to add new ones as i find them to the comments:

    #flashesofdelight & #pinkflashofdelight from @glitterguide

    #candyminimal from @candyminimal

    #thedulcetlife from @dulcetcreative (thanks for tipping me off to that one @kdall070)

    #thenativecreative from @saltwatermocha and @inkandpulp

    #creativityfound @trouvemag (mainly for tagging your pictures of the magazine i think)

  17. shared by @itsranan (

    #vscocam / @vscocam for pictures taken with vsco

    #instagood / @instagood

    #socality / @socality - faith based community

    #liveessential @liveessential "A community of people reinforcing the meaning of "Less is more" in their lives."

    #thatpnwlife / @thatpnwlife - pacific northwest

  18. Working on my insta game is def a goal of mine this year and this list is so amazing! I had no idea all these hashtags existed and that it was such a popular thing. Definitely going to start doing this! Thank you!

  19. Soooooooo needed this post Laura! I am trying to understand Instagram and you have become my guru! Also I am always up in Oz if you ever need to chat! ;)

  20. Seriously, this is one of the most helpful IG posts I've read. I'm so grateful for what you have taught me =) It's because of you that my IG game has been upped.

  21. Featuring you on Found & Foraged tonight! Best Instagram post ever!


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